Namibia (Tier 2)

Namibia is a country of origin, transit, and destination for women, children, and possibly men subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Victims are lured by traffickers to urban centers and commercial farms with promises of legitimate work for adequate wages, but instead are forced to work long hours and carry out hazardous tasks; victims may also be beaten or raped by traffickers or third parties. Traffickers exploit Namibian children, as well as children from Angola, Zambia, and possibly Zimbabwe, through exploitative, and in some cases, forced labor in agriculture, cattle herding, domestic service, charcoal production, and in prostitution in Namibia. In some cases, Namibian parents unwittingly sell their children to traffickers. Other adults subject the children of their distant relatives to forced labor or sex trafficking. Small business owners and farmers may also commit trafficking crimes against women or children. Unconfirmed reports indicate that truck drivers recruit and transport Namibian women and children to South Africa, who may later be subjected to forced prostitution. Among Namibia's ethnic groups, San girls are particularly vulnerable to be trafficked for domestic servitude; during the reporting period, for example, a 22-year-old San girl – lured six years earlier with promises of education – was discovered in a situation of domestic servitude, suffering physical, sexual, and psychological abuse.

The Government of Namibia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the year, the government investigated cases of child and adult labor trafficking, and rescued child victims of labor trafficking. It prosecuted nine suspected traffickers though it did not convict any suspected traffickers. The government also opened two shelters and a one-stop shop for victim services and began renovating three other similar facilities, which will provide care for victims of gender-based violence, as well as trafficking, and raised public awareness via media campaigns and regional visits by a parliamentary delegation.

Recommendations for Namibia: Greatly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders under the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA); continue to train law enforcement officials on the anti-trafficking provisions of the POCA; improve the formal victim identification mechanism and train law enforcement and social service personnel on its application; continue to dedicate adequate time and resources to complete ongoing shelter and safe house renovations; conduct additional national anti-trafficking public awareness campaigns, particularly in the border areas; and collect data and maintain databases on trafficking cases, including forced labor cases.


The Government of Namibia increased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year by investigating suspected human trafficking offenses and related labor violations. In May 2009, the government enacted the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) of 2004, which explicitly criminalizes all forms of trafficking. Under the POCA, persons who participate in trafficking offenses or aid and abet trafficking offenders may be imprisoned for up to 50 years and fined up to $133,000, penalties which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government, however, has not yet prosecuted or convicted a trafficking offender under the POCA. The Namibian Police Force's Woman and Child Protection Unit (WACPU) investigated three trafficking cases in 2010, all involving females who were promised an education, though were instead subjected to domestic servitude and sexual abuse. Although one victim chose not to press charges against her employer, investigations remain ongoing in the other two cases. In 2010, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MLSW) investigated five cases of suspected child labor in violation of the 2007 Labor Act; in all instances, offenders were issued compliance orders in accordance with the Act, though otherwise not penalized. Labor inspectors also removed 10 children from cattle herding and domestic work in the Caprivi region, several of whom were reportedly trafficked from Zambia; offenders were issued compliance orders, though otherwise not penalized. During the reporting period, the MLSW followed-up on 111 cases of child labor discovered in 2009; police opened criminal investigations in nine instances where employers failed to obey compliance orders received in 2009, charging them with hazardous child labor for the trafficking of nine children for the purposes of cattle herding. The government cooperated with the Zimbabwean police in the investigation of one trafficking case identified during the reporting period. In partnership with IOM, the government provided training for 90 law enforcement, social services, customs, and immigration officials on the identification of trafficking victims and the management of trafficking cases. In June 2010, in partnership with a foreign government, the Namibian government trained 35 members of the Namibian police force, officials from the Office of the Prosecutor General, and representatives from other ministries on the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. WACPU cooperates with police units nationally and locally, as well as with MLSW labor inspectors and Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) social workers as they investigate trafficking cases and refer victims; however, there is a need for better data sharing between these entities.


The government maintained modest efforts to protect victims and ensure their access to appropriate services offered by non-governmental entities. Police have been previously trained to contact WACPU if they discover a woman or child victim, and WACPU police are subsequently responsible for referring victims to temporary shelter and medical assistance provided by NGOs or other entities. The government identified 27 trafficking victims; one was referred to the care of an NGO. The MGECW provided social workers to assist police in counseling victims of violent crimes, including trafficking; 12 trafficking victims received this care during the reporting period. The Namibian government has begun to provide long-term shelter and services designed to meet the specific needs of trafficking victims. The government continued its renovation of buildings to be used as shelters for women and child victims of gender-based violence and human trafficking; two were renovated during the reporting period, in addition to several government-subsidized shelters that are already operational. In addition to two one-stop shops for trafficking victim protection in Windhoek and Oshakati, WACPU opened a third in Rundu in 2010, featuring overnight accommodation, a private room for medical examinations, and space for social workers to provide counseling and psychosocial support; however, this facility did not provide care to trafficking victims during the reporting period. The MGECW began use of a national database on gender-based violence, which includes statistics on trafficking and child labor victims.

The Namibian legal system provides protection to victims who wish to testify against their abusers, and, on a case by case basis, offers a legal alternative to foreign victims' removal to countries where they may face hardship or retribution; however, such benefits were not provided during the reporting period. Given the weaknesses in Namibia's formal victim identification process, trafficking victims may have been jailed or prosecuted for violating laws related to immigration and prostitution before they were identified as victims; however, there were no reports that this occurred. During the reporting period, there were no reports of trafficking victims being fined or jailed for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. In 2010, Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration officials began working with social workers and psychologists to interview illegal immigrants and screen them for human trafficking indicators. The government cooperated with Zambian authorities on the repatriation of several children. Following repatriation, Namibian victims were reunited with their families, entitled to counseling, and provided medical care – in some cases free of charge. During the reporting period, at least four Namibian victims were repatriated from other countries.


The Namibian government increased efforts to raise awareness of human trafficking throughout the country during the reporting period. The deputy chairperson of the National Council advocated for the rights of gender-based violence and trafficking victims in nine of Namibia's 13 regions by educating parents about the dangers of trafficking, particularly for young people sent abroad to study or work. The Inter-Ministerial Committee, which coordinates government activities on gender-based violence and trafficking, developed a national action plan, covering April 2010 through April 2011, for prevention of gender-based violence and trafficking and the protection of victims. The MGECW led a multi-stakeholder working group and began drafting a national action plan on gender-based violence and trafficking. The government also continued the Zero Tolerance Against Gender-Based Violence and Trafficking in Persons media campaign from July to December 2010, in which it encouraged victims and members of the public to report suspected trafficking offenders and assist in investigations and prosecutions. From May to December, the MGECW also participated in weekly radio shows to raise awareness on gender-based violence and trafficking. In August 2010, the MLSW organized a nationwide public awareness campaign on child labor and labor inspections, which featured television and radio spots. The government made no efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.